Carnival is one of the most elaborate and renowned festivals in the world. Visiting Venice during Carnival is a magnificent and unique experience that will truly change your view of culture and tradition. The atmosphere, combined with rich Venetian customs, allows sightseers to jump right into a whole new world.
Venice is located in the region of Veneto in Northeast Italy. Unusual for its streets made out of water, Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting over 50,000 visitors each day. This city, with over 117 islands, is connected by hundreds of canals in a shallow lagoon that is simply a sight to see.
In a land where sparkling water flows through the “streets” – traffic is unlike that of any other city. Water taxis, gondolas, yachts and motorboats buzz through the Grand Canal that stretches through the Venetian islands. The Grand Canal, which is Venice’s main “street,” stretches two miles, divides the city into two halves and has only three bridges crossing it.
The magical celebration of Carnevale lasts the entire month of February with extravagant concerts, pageants and contests. People from all over the world come to this festival to witness the costumes, masks and parades in the heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco.
This celebration originated in 1162 after a Venetian victory against Ulrico, the Patriarch of Aquileia. The tribute of this victory coincided with the holiday right before Lent, Carnevale; and stems for the Latin wording meaning “farewell to meat.” Venetians would party before the forty days of Lenten fasting prior to Easter. During the 17th century the Venetians became even more devoted to the partying; so much that Carnevale lasted about six months out of the year. This celebration was put on hold after the fall of Venice to Napoleon. Only recently was this festival revived into its now magical and historical features.
The Unique Masks and Costumes Maschera (maskera)
The Venice Carnival originated in the 11th century and the practice of wearing masks and costumes became an established custom not long after, when mascareri (mask makers) were recognized with their own professional guild. Today you are likely to see many people dressed up in elaborate masks and costumes with many onlookers enthusiastically taking pictures. Each and every costume is different; sometimes it’s an elegant dress, or perhaps a funny, animated character. Either way, the people behind the masks always know how to entertain.
Venice’s past comes alive during this unique celebration. And with such rich roots connecting the past and present, Venice for Carnival is truly a glimpse into history. Even though Carnival is only a month out of the year, its magic and beauty can be seen and felt year round.
Share with us your own experience with Carnevale!